Changes to Simon Mayo’s Drivetime make licence fee seem less value for money

Simon Mayo has been joined by Jo Whiley presenting his Drivetime show in a controversial shake-up to

Simon Mayo has been joined by Jo Whiley presenting his Drivetime show in a controversial shake-up to the schedule that has not gone down well with listeners. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire - Credit: PA

At around 41p per day, I’ve always thought the BBC licence fee offered great value for money, writes Thrifty Living’s Sheena Grant.

Where else, I reasoned, would you be able to get such excellent, innovative broadcasting, on TV, digital and radio, for such a bargain price?

And while I still defend the licence fee - just look at ITV to see why - I no longer feel I’m getting the value for money I once was. I’m not alone, judging by the number of people complaining about the same thing.

This is a sorry tale, involving a broadcaster who just happens to have a home on the Suffolk coast, and his once brilliant Radio 2 show, now taken from him for no reason that makes any sense, and turned into a sad shadow of its former self.

Yes, I am talking about Simon Mayo’s Drivetime, a mix of wit, fun, music and informative chat that used to accompany me - and millions of others - on the journey home or entertain me as I cooked the evening meal.

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Last month, Radio 2 ‘refreshed’ its schedule by bringing Jo Whiley in as co-presenter, ditching most of the previous on-air team and almost everything else listeners loved about the programme. The new show, by popular consensus, is dull. The presenters sound miserable and have no chemistry. Veteran radio reviewer Gillian Reynolds summed it up by saying listening to the new show really was “a bumpy ride”. I feel Gillian was being too kind.

Others have been less so. And justifiably. There’s even a petition to #bringbackdrivetime. Last week Lewis Carnie, head of Radio 2, was on Radio 4’s Feedback to answer the critics. There was no going back, he said, sounding rattled, arrogant and annoyed with those pesky, complaining listeners, all at once.

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Many people, going by the online reaction, have responded by switching off Radio 2 completely, not just the dreary Drivetime replacement. I’ve joined them, meaning my licence fee isn’t the value for money it once was. I know you don’t need a TV licence to listen to radio but the licence fee is what pays for BBC radio. No-one should take their audience for granted, even if that audience has little option but to pay up regardless of whether or not it likes what’s on offer.

What are your views? Email Sheena with your thoughts

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